Somethings Wonderful This Way Came

Somethings Wonderful This Way Came
1970's Vintage Caftan in At Play

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finding Dress Panels

A number of items began to appear on Ebay that were distinctly unsuitable for quilting.  They were composed of a stand alone design, centered onto  a 1 yard piece of fabric.  These items almost universally were sold in two yard lengths, yielding two designs per cut.  I discovered that these were dress panels.  Sophie, Harwood Steiger's wife, obviously had a great influence on the development and marketing of his designs. These two yard cuts of fabric were just enough to make a simple shift.  Back in the 1960s and beyond, simple shifts were very popular, and in Arizona, a light weight sleevless shift was a necessity. Furthermore, the fabrics used  were almost always a poly/cotton blend which would not require ironing.  Sophie was a very practical woman. 

I began collecting these, too.  No self respecting addict would pass them up, even if no legitimate use was envisioned.  Eventually, some dress panels showed up in what I call kettle cloth and some in a more formal linen like fabric, though I'm sure it's rayon.  The subjects of the designs are as varied as views in the Sonoran desert.  There are designs suggestive of the Aztecs, many strictly representational designs of cactus and desert birds, and many of lovely flowers and other wildlife.  I'm always finding more unknown designs as time goes on.  They come in a great range of colors, too.  I have often thought of making my own simple shifts out of these great dress panels.  I just have a tough time taking my scissors to any Harwood Steiger fabric.

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